141108 Curiosities served
2015-11-01 10:52 PM
With a little help from my friends
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On this day two years ago, I bought the wheelchair van for ED, with the money we raised from friends and family, by doing a sponsored walk and unashamed begging. The story unfolded in my blog I expect, unless it was one of those periods when I didn't write due to being totally overwhelmed, but I've never written it all out, so here goes.
ED's loss of mobility crept along almost unnoticed until she reached various points of no return. First er legs were wobbly, then she couldn't walk on the shingle beach; she couldn't walk far; she couldn't walk without a stick, without a frame, without holding onto the furniture indoors, at all. She needed a wheelchair. She used a wheelchair but could get up and down steps with help. She used a wheelchair but needed ramps and to be helped/shoved/hauled from the chair to the car. Then she could no loner bear her weight at all, and could not be moved from chair to car. Man, that was shocking. I mean, they were all shocking, but my reaction had always been OK, so you can't do it that way, we'll have to do it like this, on we go.
But fuck, once we couldn't get her from chair to car, she was stuck. She lived in a village that had neither a shop nor a bus service, in a part of the country that hadn't got around to thinking about access. There were only two wheelchair accessible taxis within fuck knows what massive radius, so if you wanted to use one you had to book in advance, days if not weeks in advance, and it cost a fucking fortune - to get to the nearest town was fifteen quid each way, and there was fuck all there - to get anywhere interesting was stupid money. SIL wouldn't pay a penny towards it (don't get me started, we'll just slide past him and his £80k car), nor could he advise me of any decent places to go, despite having been born and lived in the area all his forty fucking years. I took her out every two weeks, every time I came up, but I was living on benefits and an overdraft and we kept getting hit with awful weather (though we did just laugh it off) and it couldn't go on, because my overdraft wasn't unlimited, but what was I supposed to do? Accept my girl only leaving the mobile home park for medical reasons for the rest of her life?
No. I wasn't having it, though it took me a while to work out what to do. I was going to get her a wheelchair accessible van. I didn't know how, but I was fucking going to. I wrote lots of affirmations - we enjoy our trips out in ED's van - that kind of thing. I thought of a sponsored something and put it on facebook to see if anyone had any other ideas. My cousin (who I hardly know as he grew up in Hong Kong and I just met him at a funeral or two), said he'd put on a benefit night at a club, which was a bit thrilling, and all my and my kids' muso mates said they'd play so we worked towards that and started to think it could actually happen. The cousin reckoned we might make several hundred quid, which would be a good start, but not enough on its own, so I was still wracking my brain for more ideas.
Then one afternoon two pals came round and we all got a bit stoned together and they were sure we could raise shitloads of money for a sponsored walk if we used social media and justgiving and within a couple of hours they'd set up a fundraising page (we didn't use justgiving as you had to be a charity) and a pay-pal account and we were off. We decided to walk between two local piers, thirteen miles of flat terrain, all paved, with toilets and coffee shops at convenient intervals.
I needed a bit of blurb to go on the fundraising page and I just couldn't do it. As an ex-English teacher I knew exactly what was required, a bit of emotive shit, but I absolutely could not do that for my darling girl. It made me just weep and weep and weep, so I blogged about it and dear outer-jessie posted a perfect blurb in the comments, which I cut and pasted onto the page and before I knew it Poolie kicked the donations off with fifty pounds! Fifty pounds! Amazing! Once it was started, people began to donate - so exciting coming home each day and always seeing the page updated and then, incredibly, we had a single donation of two thousand pounds! It was anonymous but I knew who it was because she'd posted something on her facebook page, liked something else I'd posted and ping, in came this donation. She's the only person I know with that kind of disposable income, so I know it was her, darling person, and suddenly we could do it. We could get something for two grand, some kind of accessible van, even if it was old, we could do it.
But that opened the way to big donations and they started pouring in £100 and £500 at a time, as well as lots of tens and twenties, people from every period of my life and ED's, both Real Life and bloglife, and it just grew and grew until we realised we'd fucking done it! We had enough to get a decent van. Someone suggested making a video to explain what MS is and to say thank you so I did this - first take, no editing, as I don't know how:
We still had to do the walk - I'd been a bit old school about it - I'd printed off sponsor forms and got people to promise money once it was done, and by this time quite a few had said they'd walk as well. I can't remember who did the organising, but we had non-walkers, like H, who were all set to drive along the route with emergency plasters and lifts home, J, who appointed herself official photographer and an astonishing group who actually turned up to walk in (of course) torrential, never-ending rain:
The group included two people, friends of friends, that I'd only ever met once, an ex-pupil and her two sisters, an ex-colleague I hadn't seen for five years and just dear lovely people who turned up and plodded along, soaking wet, for bloody hours. I have to admit I missed a section in the middle, when H took me round to Sis's where I put my clothes in the drier and had a hot drink and a little sniff to see me on my way before he dropped me off a bit further down the road. I walked eight of the thirteen miles, and looked like this when I arrived, last home, (photo taken by some passing stranger):
I walked in my crocs, which everyone said would kill me, but not a single blister, ha ha.
And that was how we bought a van for my girl. Sadly, between the walk on Oct 13th and buying the van on 1st Nov, she had another, major relapse, from which she didn't remit and lost her sight plus another big chunk of mental capacity, leaving her scared, confused and very distressed when she was on her own. So she had to move into the care home. But at least we can take her out, which we do. YD and I are going up there next weekend, staying in a b&b, to spend a decent amount of time with her and take her to the woods.
I am grateful for: all the people who made that happen, and I always will be - it was like being wrapped in a blanket of love and support, a proper silver lining, just when we needed it most.
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